ANKARA: President Erdogan’s Visit To Ukraine


Daily Sabah, Turkey
March 20 2015


President Recep Tayyip Erdoðan’s visit to Ukraine is taking place at
a critical time. Just a few days ahead of his visit, Erdoðan held a
telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During
the conversation, which was a “sincere” one according to Kremlin
Palace sources, the two leaders addressed various aspects of bilateral
cooperation and the course of important decisions that were taken
at the fifth session of the High-Level Russian-Turkish Cooperation
Council in Ankara on Dec. 1, 2014. The two leaders, who verbalized
their will on the further improvement of Turkish-Russian relations,
focused on joint energy projects, including the Turkish Stream, as
well as exchanging ideas about the resolution of the Ukraine crisis,
ways of ending the conflict and the problems facing Crimean Tatars.

Erdoðan touched briefly upon the 1915 incidents, saying that Turkey
wants the Armenian issue be approached from an objective historical
perspective. He also noted that Armenia ignores Turkey’s calls for
peace and does not have a positive approach to Turkey’s proposal
to form a common history commission. Erdoðan’s remarks show that
Russia is following his visit to Ukraine more closely than the West,
and this visit is also of importance for Russia, considering that
the foundation of the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP)
was laid in Kars just a few days before Erdoðan’s visit and the
inauguration ceremony was attended by Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev and Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

The direct transmission of Azeri gas to Europe through Georgia and
Turkey is not only a move that involves energy, but it is also an
important step for Europe to expand toward its east. Furthermore,
the TANAP project is a response to Germany, which considers Europe
as its own market, and its economic policies that date back to the
20th century. Today, the TANAP project has become the most important
project of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). Russia’s rejection of the
South Stream and substitution with the Turkish Stream means that it
accepts the reality of SGC. Only if Russia accepts the reality of SGC
and implements complementary policies can it respond to Europe’s siege
policies – which Putin seems to have understood. This is why Erdoðan’s
visit to Ukraine is important for Russia as well. Certainly, projects
like the TANAP do not only bring integration in the field of energy,
they also contribute to peace processes and reduce frozen conflict
areas by strengthening integration in energy security, economy and
politics. It should be noted that a Turkey that is constructive and
influential in Europe and the Caucasian region will pave the way for
a situation where everyone wins. Turkey is the only country in the
region to prioritize a permanent peace process in the region covering
the Middle East and Caucasia.

Another project complementing the TANAP is the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK)
railway line project, which is the most important line of the New
Silk Road. Just like TANAP, BTK does not only cover three countries,
it is also becoming one of the major commercial carriage projects of
Asia and Europe, and particularly of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan ports.

Central Asia is connected to Turkey (Marmaray) via BTK through the
Caspian region. This line, along with the SGC, will connect Chinese
ports to Europe through Turkey.

The world economy and politics are moving toward greater integration.

We are moving toward a kind of capitalism where structural
differences such as economic efficiency, technology, labor costs,
infrastructure, environment and education are gradually disappearing
with globalization. For the survival of the system, even in the medium
term, these discrepancies need to be eliminated, although the previous
period (system paradigm) was based on them. The differences between
developed and underdeveloped countries or regions was the requirement
and consequence of this system. Now we are living behind this as
customs unions, free trade agreements, the assimilation of standards,
the free circulation of labor, and the spread of infrastructural
investments that will remove the differences in productivity, have
begun emerging simultaneously. The regions that can achieve all this
first will come to the fore and use their wealth.

Here, two main capital accumulation fields come to the fore in the
short term – energy and human capital. As outlined above, a major step
toward such an integration in energy will be taken by ensuring the
security of natural gas pipelines and by putting SGC into effect as
a price and supply regulator and market maker. Now, northern Europe
is retrograding in the field of human capital. Asia Minor, starting
with Turkey, is poised to determine developments in terms of human
capital and the circulation of skilled labor in the region in the
upcoming period. From this historical perspective, Erdoðan’s visits
to conflict areas such as Ukraine, are of strategic importance.

From: A. Papazian

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